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Athletics creates program to make well-rounded athletes

The Athletic Department administrators want more from their student-athletes than success on the court and field.
They want student-athletes to have success in life.
To prepare students for life after college, the department created the Bradley University Leadership and Supporting Teams program.
The program aims to promote well-rounded athletes through commitments to academic excellence, athletic excellence, personal excellence and service and career development.
“We want [student-athletes] to succeed not only in college athletics,” Executive Athletic Director Virnette House-Browing said. “We want to help our student-athletes succeed after college.”
She also said the Bradley Athletic Department is creating a different leadership program.
“We are working with a consultant to develop a unique Bradley program,” she said. “We want to create a leadership culture to encompass coaches and administration and students.”
The BU BLAST program is part of the NCAA-mandated Life Skills Program, which was founded at Bradley in 1996.
Other parts of the Life Skills Program include nutrition and volunteering, including the Missouri Valley Conference’s Just Read program.
“A few years ago, nutrition was a buzz word [in college athletics],” House-Browning said.
So the university hired a sports nutritionist to enact a nutrition program for student-athletes.
But now, leadership programs, like the one at Bradley, are sweeping the college athletic scene.
Universities across the country are implementing some sort of leadership program, House-Browning said.
The University of Notre Dame hosts a leadership conference every year. Select athletes from that program attend the conference on a Sunday in February to watch and interact with guest speakers and to learn how to implement leadership skills.
The University of North Carolina sets the benchmark on athletic-leadership programs, Life Skills Coordinator Jessi Searby said.
At Bradley, the consultant and Athletic Department administrators met with student-athletes in focus groups to discuss what those students would like to see in Bradley’s leadership program, and to get insight into their leadership skills, House-Browning said.
The program will also utilize the other leadership programs that exist on campus, such as the Lewis J. Burger Center for Public Leadership and the leadership minor.
The Athletic Department is currently in the fact-finding stage, and is researching the best way to begin implementing a leadership program.
That research will include looking at schools’ programs, other research and the findings of the focus groups.